Month: May 2014

Review: Savvy Saving

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years. I find couponing blogs like Stockpiling Moms to be fascinating places. Most of the time, they’re devoted intensely towards …

Categories: Books and Reading

Don’t Use the Stove when the Microwave Will Do (20/365)

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. For the specific task microwaves excel at, they’re much more efficient than stove tops and ovens. The basic stats on energy use prove this to be the case. However, the savings are relatively small. Per comparable use (one hour in the oven versus fifteen …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #56

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding A few days ago, I overheard Otis Redding singing from the speakers of a car near me, and just …

Air-Dry Your Clothes Instead of Using the Dryer (19/365)

On any given day, if you were to wander into our laundry room, you’d find damp clothing hung up, laid out, or somehow exposed to the relatively warm and relatively dry air in there. They tend to dry out perfectly in a day or so, enabling us to just fold them up and take them …

Categories: Frugality

Overcoming the Power of Branding

“Having preferences means having weaknesses.” – Magnus Carlsen, currently the number one rated chess player in the world Thanks to Adria Richards for the picture Over the years, Sarah and I have relied on Cascade Complete to get our dishes clean. We’d tried a lot of different dishwashing detergents, particularly when we were first living …

Make Your Own Powdered Laundry Detergent (18/365)

I’m often stunned at the high price of laundry detergent. If you’re buying Tide, for example, even if you buy the jumbo pack in multiples, you’re still paying over $0.30 per load. Even generic detergents rarely cost much below $0.15 per load. That’s why I prefer to make my own detergent. I can easily get …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Back Pain Blues

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Puzzling through hourly pay rate 2. Career path concerns 3. Working with children 4. Speed reading 5. Getting less sleep 6. Netbook or tablet? 7. Risk …

Categories: Books and Reading

Clean Out Your Dryer Lint (17/365)

This seems like such a simple thing. Most of us do this as a matter of course whenever we dry a load of laundry in our dryer. Forgetting to do it, however, adds up to a significant cost. Not only does it make your dryer run less efficiently (depending on the level of lint and …

Categories: Frugality

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Warm Blanket Edition

During the day, when my kids are at school and my wife is out of the house at work, I turn the furnace off and the house gets rather cool. When that happens, I often just wrap myself up in a warm blanket as I work. It’s a big, comfortable thing that’s just cozy to …

Categories: Books and Reading

Use Cold Water for Most Clothes Washing (16/365)

It’s simple. If you use hot water at home to wash your clothes, heating the water is the single largest expense of running a load of laundry. I base this on the numbers calculated by Mr. Electricity on the cost of washing machines, using a set of rather rigorous data. If you wash on hot …

Categories: Frugality

Your Money and a Higher Power

Image courtesy Kevin Dooley. “Whenever a man makes haste, God too hastens with him.” – Aeschylus A few days ago, I had a long conversation with an old friend, who I’ll call “Randall.” Randall is in a deep financial, personal, and professional crisis. Instead of tackling the challenge head-on, Randall seems to be in something …

Categories: Getting Started

Shop Patiently (15/365)

When we were first considering a move into our current home, my wife and I made a list of things that we wanted to have in our home that we just didn’t have room for in our small apartment. One of the big items on that list was a deep freezer. We wanted one primarily …

Categories: Frugality

Reader Mailbag: Friendship

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Housing challenges 2. Employer matched IRAs? 3. Paying ahead on credit cards 4. Bus pass math 5. Selling a small business 6. Negotiating a promotion 7. …

Categories: Books and Reading

Consider Last Year’s Models (14/365)

A few weeks ago, I found myself at a local department store looking at microwave ovens. While I was browsing the ovens on sale there, I couldn’t help but notice a few things. For starters, there were quite a few display models of microwave ovens right there at eye level. They had various features – …

Categories: Frugality

Review: Brandwashed

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years. One element of personal finance that has always fascinated me is the psychology of why we buy things. The …

Categories: Books and Reading

Look for the EnergyStar Logo (13/365)

When you’re trying to determine which product to buy, one valuable calculation to make is the total cost of ownership of the item. For example, if you’re buying a washing machine, it’s worthwhile to also include in the calculation the total cost of the energy you’ll use during the lifespan of the washing machine (as …

Categories: Frugality

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #55

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well. 1. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action How do you inspire others to take action in their own lives? It’s something I’ve actually thought about a lot over …

Reliability Is the Most Important Feature (12/365)

Far and away, reliability is the most important feature when buying a product you’re actually going to depend on regularly in your life. From washing machines to televisions, from kitchen knives to media players, reliability is an incredibly valuable feature. To be honest, I put reliability first with almost everything that I buy. The catch …

Categories: Frugality

Changing Dreams

Claymont Mansion, near Charles Town, WV. Photo courtesy of Troy Tolley. The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it. – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus When I was younger, I spent a lot of time visiting my aunt and uncle, who lived within walking distance of our house. My aunt was always a …

Categories: Getting Started